Suppression of brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders by dietary restriction and environmental enrichment: Molecular mechanisms

Mark P. Mattson, Wenzhen Duan, Jaewon Lee, Zhihong Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Dietary restriction (reduced calorie intake with nutritional maintenance) can extend lifespan and may increase the resistance of the nervous system to age-related diseases including neurodegenerative disorders. An environment enriched in intellectual and physical activities can also allay many of the adverse effects of aging on the brain. The mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of dietary restriction and environmental enrichment on the brain involve stimulation of the expression of neurotrophic factors and ‘stress proteins’. The neurotrophic factors and stress proteins induced by dietary restriction may protect neurons by suppressing oxyradical production, stabilizing cellular calcium homeostasis and inhibiting a form of programmed cell death called apoptosis. Interestingly, dietary restriction and environmental enrichment also increase numbers of newly-generated neural cells in the adult brain suggesting that these behavioral modifications can increase the brain's capacity for plasticity and self-repair. A better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these effects of diet and behavior on the brain is leading to novel therapeutic agents that mimick their beneficial effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-778
Number of pages22
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Volume122
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 31 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Calories
  • Heat shock protein
  • Mitochondria
  • Neurotrophic factor
  • Oxidative stress
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology

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